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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United

Jeju United have a bit of momentum carrying them into their away encounter with four of a possible six points from their previous two matches.  Gyeongnam have struggled mightily of late, with their last win in the league dating back to the end of March.  The islanders picked up their first win of the season against this same side at home, but will hope to repeat the feat as the road side this time around.  KLU's Branko Belan previews this potential relegation six pointer.

Match: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United
Venue: Changwon Football Center
Kickoff: Saturday July 20th, 2019; 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gangwon FC 2-1 Gyeongnam FC

Kim Jong-jin had Gyeongnam in front on 33 minutes, but a quick second half turnaround from Gangwon reversed the result, as Cho Jae-wan equalized in the 75th minute and Park Chang-jun put them ahead to stay just three minutes later.

Gangwon controlled much of the first half, with their best chance coming midway through when Jung Jo-gook's volleyed effort was parried onto the crossbar by Lee Beom-su.  The visitors then scored against the run of play and kept the advantage going into the break.

Gangwon began to re-assert themselves in the early stages of the second half, but Luc Castaignos should have had Gyeongnam two up on the hour mark when he was in alone on Kim Ho-jun, but his shot at goal ended up wide of the post.  That opened the door for Gangwon to push on, and it didn't take long for them to completely change the complexion of the match.

Cho Jae-wan struck the first blow, potting home a cutback with a low shot after an earlier goal had been brought back for offside.  Park Chang-jun would step in front of the Gyeongnam 'keeper to tap in from a low cross only minutes afterward.  They could have had a third late on, but Lee Beom-su was there to fist it away.  Gangwon have played some aggressive football this season, and the results have followed.  The win moved them up to fourth on 34 points, inching ahead of Daegu FC, who sit one point behind them after the latest round of matches.

Highlights: here 

Jeju United 1-1 Pohang Steelers

Yun Il-lok has caught fire of late, and put his side up after 24 minutes with a spectacular strike which Kang Hyun-moo could only watch sail over his head into the back of the net.  They would not be able to hold the lead however, as new signing, Russian striker Stanislav Injutcenko leveled matters just minutes before the break.

Neither side was able to break the deadlock in the second half, but for Jeju, it was still a positive result, and they now have something to build on as they set their sights on avoiding the drop, having gone four points clear of Incheon who occupy the bottom of the table.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The first time these sides met this season, it finished 2-0 to Jeju, their first win of the 2019 campaign and only their second clean sheet.  It was also Choi Yunkyum's first match in charge following the decision of Cho Sung-hwan to step down after going winless through the first nine matches of the season.  Magno Cruz put Jeju in front on 65 minutes and Tiago added the second in injury time to seal all three points on the afternoon.

The head to head stats are very close, with Jeju having won eight times to Gyeongnam's seven, while nine matches have ended in a draw.  Jeju have scored 28 times to Gyeongnam's 26 over that span.  Both sides have some new faces in their respective squads and they could well be the difference come the final whistle.

Team News

All of a sudden, Jeju look like a team with an abundance of options in the middle of the park.  Nam Jun-jae has looked very good in his first two matches with Jeju, and the emergence of Seo Jin-su since being inserted into the lineup for the first time against Seongnam last month gives them another viable set of legs in an attacking role.  Yun Il-lok has four goals in his last two matches.  He is finally starting to hit his stride after high expectations were placed on him at the beginning of the season.

Having Jung Woo-jae at left back has strengthened them defensively.  Should he be able to remain healthy for the rest of the season, it will give Jeju great hope to remain in the top flight next year.  The islanders are finally starting to look like a football team.  Despite not scoring just yet for his new team, Lee Keun-ho has shown an enthusiasm going forward, and it won't be long before he finds his name on the score sheet.

Kim Dong-woo should be likened in central defense over rookie Kim Seung-woo.  The latter has shown flashes of potential this season, but is still a bit raw and needs time to develop at his position.  The former is more experienced and a steady choice to shut down what Gyeongnam will throw at them offensively.

Speaking ahead of the match, Choi Yun-kyum said "It is actually a six point match.  Although it is an away game, I am confident about the way we have played recently.  It's time to go to another level and win this match," he finished.

There are no suspensions in the team, so the expectation is that it will be a similar lineup to the ones who took the field in the previous two matches.  Knowing what is potentially on the line, another attacking variation will be preferred in order to maintain the momentum which has accumulated with recent results.

For Gyeongnam, rumor has it that Takahiro Kunimoto will finally make his return to the lineup after a long injury layoff, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be.  It should also mark the debut of Uros Deric for his new side, as the deal to bring him in has now been made official.  It is speculated that things did not end well with Gangwon, so the move will be a fresh start for him.  He may have to shake off a bit of rust with the last time he's played more than an hour in a match being against Daegu FC on June 15th.

Kim Jong-boo said "Deric is a player who fits in well with the tactics that led to Gyeongnam's success last season.  He will be the new player to lead the line for us."

Deric himself also commented on the move, saying "I am glad to come to Gyeongnam.  I want to be part of success with this team and give great performances, as I had a successful first season in K League last year," he concluded

There are no suspensions in the side, so it would seem that Kim Jong-boo will field his best eleven, although how he will proceed with Kunimoto will be a deciding factor to how the match could play out for them.  He may choose to start him, and, if he does, his minutes may be monitored as he works his way back to full match fitness.

The Adversary

Gyeongnam's woes in the league have been well documented this season after a runners-up finish in 2018.

After a fantastic season in 2018, things have started to go downhill for the Changwon based side this year.  They last won in the league at the end of March, making it seventeen matches without a win.  The loss of last season's Golden Boot winner Marcao has been felt through the team.  Losing Negueba for the season has also had a direct impact on results since he went down.  Jordon Mutch ended his contract with the club recently, and it has them looking thin in the middle of the park at the moment.

There is great hope that the addition of Deric will result in goals, but the player himself has struggled this season, with only four goals to his name after a stellar first season saw him top the twenty goal mark.  His twenty-two overall were good for second in the league.  He has also had a great deal of success against Jeju, scoring four goals against them last season.  Could he be the man to inject some offence into this side?  He will need to be if they have a chance of finally getting three points from a match for the first time in what feels like an eternity.


Jeju look different with some positive results to their credit lately.  New faces in the side have brought some life into their play, and there is a good chance that trend will continue against a Gyeongnam side which had lacked an identity this season because of injuries to key players and a lack of results.

The return of Kunimoto will have a positive impact, but it remains to be seen how much he will actually play.  If Jeju are able to contain Deric, something they had a lot of difficulty doing last season, they can escape with a result from this one.  Going with four in the back will put them a step closer to doing that.

The new additions for the islanders could once again turn out to be the difference in this one, and it wouldn't be a stretch to see them take all three points for the second time in the past three matches.

Prediction: Gyeongnam FC 1-2 Jeju United

K League 1 Round 22 Preview: here

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